Author of the Month

Serpent of the North: The Overlook Mountain/Draco Correlation (cont.)
By Glenn M. Kreisberg, New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA)

In Reachable Stars: Patterns in the Ethnoastronomy of Eastern North America, author George Lankford’s volume focuses on the ancient North Americans and the ways they identified, patterned, ordered, and used the stars to enhance their culture and illuminate their traditions. They knew them as regions that could be visited by human spirits, and so the lights for them were not distant points of light, but “reachable stars.” Guided by the night sky and its constellations, they created oral traditions, or myths, that contained their wisdom and which they used to pass on to succeeding generations their particular world view. However, they did not all tell the same stories or see the same patterns. Lankford uses that fact—patterns of agreement and disagreement—to discover prehistoric relationships between Indian groups. In his research, Lankford devoted an entire chapter to “The Serpent in the Stars”, seen usually by the Natives as the Scorpio or Draco constellations.

The great constellation of Draco was seen and revered by most of the civilized cultures and tribes of the Northern hemisphere. The Nordics shaped their great boats in the form of Draco the cosmic dragon. The Native American Indians named their tribes after it, and performed many dances to represent celestial movements. The Irish Druids made good use of the symbol on their monuments. During the time that Draco's star Thuban was the pole star, it may have appeared to ancient sky watchers that the Earth revolved around Draco.

A symbol of sacred knowledge in antiquity was a tree, ever guarded by a serpent, the serpent or dragon of wisdom. The serpent of Hercules was said to guard the golden apples that hung from the pole, the Tree of Life, in the midst of the garden of Hesperides. The serpent that guarded the golden fruit...and the serpent of the Garden of Eden...are the same – E. Valentia Straiton (The Celestial Ship of the North)

...the nuptial tree, round which coils the serpent, is connected with time and with life as a necessary condition; and with knowledge – the knowledge of a scientific priesthood, inheriting records and traditions hoary, perhaps, with the snows of a glacial epoch – Kennersley Lewis

From these quotes we see that serpent worship was at the heart of human’s earliest religious beliefs. But the concepts involved were far from primitive. Consider the mythological serpent as a representation of the constellation Draco and the tree of life as the pole or axis on which the Earth spins. Through the association of the serpent and the tree, and the position of the stars relative to the Earth’s axis (precession), the importance placed on the certainty of this relationship by the ancients becomes clearer. And, why any disturbance in that relationship, metaphorically and perhaps literally, could portend a major imbalance in the energy and natural cycles of the Universe, with the results nearly always disastrous.

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